Our Founding Fathers declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776. Eleven years later, the U.S. Constitution was adopted and for nearly 230 years since the United States has built a reputation of law and order envied by much of the globe. The respect for the rule of law and the recognition no one person is above the law have been keys in the longevity and success of the nation.
In 2015, however, it appears the rule of law in the United States may be dead.
Laws are being selectively applied. Laws are being selectively ignored by those chosen to enforce them. Perhaps worst of all, laws are being created or changed without any regard for the process prescribed by the Constitution itself.
Examples of the federal government simply choosing not to enforce the laws on the books are everywhere. Among them, the decision by the Obama administration not to enforce federal drug laws as they pertain to marijuana possession and distribution. In recent years, a handful of states and jurisdictions have declared pot legal. Despite the fact this is in direct conflict with federal law, the feds have decided to ignore federal statutes and let these states do whatever they wish.
A more prominent and pressing example is immigration law. It is estimated that close to 12 million illegal aliens are residing in the United States. Hundreds of thousands more are pouring over the border. Not only has this administration chosen not to enforce the existing immigration law regarding illegals, its method of processing offenders nabbed at the border rather than turning them back, includes giving them a public hearing date - usually 28 days after paperwork - and then releasing them in the U.S. More than 95 percent never show for their hearings.
There is room for debate on the laws governing both of the examples above. You may be in favor of legalized marijuana and/or of changing our immigration laws. I’m not suggesting we stifle that debate. I am suggesting that if we want to preserve the rule of law and the stability it provides, we have to respect the process.
You want to legalize the Mary Jane weed? Convince Congress to change federal law. You think the immigration laws are antiquated? Convince Congress to change federal law. For any administration to simply ignore whatever laws they disagree with is a recipe for chaos.
What is the purpose of Congress passing laws if presidents have the option whether or not to follow those laws?
More examples are everywhere: The IRS goes after conservative groups, the Obama administration repeatedly ignores Freedom of Information requests, the Attorney General is found in contempt of Congress because he simply doesn’t want to cooperate. The list is alarming.
On local levels, we see similar erosion in the respect for the law. At the University of California-Irvine, student leaders voted to remove the American flag from a student union center out of concern that it might offend illegal aliens and others. In Ferguson, Missouri, Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, D.C., to name but a few, demonstrations against the police have degraded into shouting obscenities, spitting on uniformed officers and nightly demonstrations. Have individual police officers ever erred? Of course they have. But most cops are good. Encouraging an “us v. them” mentality in the streets and painting all police as the enemy further chips away at law and order.
Unfortunately, these sometimes violent confrontations with law enforcement have been encouraged by no less than the Attorney General of the United States, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, the same person who wrote a letter to attorneys general of several states telling them specifically they did not have to follow the law.
Most recently, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s self-serving home email server and selective sharing of its contents demonstrate how there are different rules for different people, depending on who you are. When asked about Mrs. Clinton’s personnel files, a State Department spokesperson replied that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “was not a regular employee” clearly indicating they feel she is entitled to play by a different set of rules than the average bear. Different people get different rules? Since when?
All of this demonstrates a disturbing pattern of intentional disregard for existing laws, special treatment of those people deemed special and governing the nation by whim, rather than by rule of law.
If we are not a nation of laws, the United States, long respected and admired in all corners of the planet, is in serious jeopardy.
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